Prairie Rim Tech

Planning for a new pole barn

One of our goals when we moved from town to our 10-acre lot in the country was to have room for a big workshop / horse barn.  Our daughter has always wanted horses (I had one growing up), and I’ve always wanted a larger workshop than our 2-stall garage could provide.  A year after we moved into our new acreage, the dust had settled enough for me to start the barn building process.  The first step was to figure out what exactly we needed from the building, and then what sort of building would meet those needs.

The first need was to house horses.  My daughter (now 14) wanted a horse, and we figure we should get two so she can have a riding partner.  You never know what the future will bring, so we added a third horse stall and a tack room to the plans.

I’m tired of always having to pull the car out of the garage when I want to do any woodworking or automotive repair, so I needed a nice, big workshop with an insulated ceiling & walls.  Some form of natural light would be nice, too.

Our little 12×24′ pole shed (which was already on the property when we moved in), was far too small for all of our gas-powered stuff, and the things we did fit inside there fit like a jigsaw puzzle.  I wanted a machine shed that was deep enough to pull in my tractor with the rear scrape blade still attached so I didn’t have to hook the blade up outside during a snowstorm in order to clear my lane.

Finally, I’ve always wanted to install a large array of solar panels to help (or completely) power our home.  Our new house has only gables on the south-facing roof, which doesn’t work well for solar panels.  I therefore needed a good, south-facing roof on the barn that had a decent slope to it.  We’re at 40-degrees latitude, so the ideal pitch for a solar panel is 40 degrees off horizontal.

I wanted my workshop to have overhead doors opening directly onto our driveway, right across the circle from our attached garage.  The lay of the land meant that the building would need to be wider than it was deep.  The solar panel requirement meant that our roof ridge needed to run across the short dimension of the building.

Location of our proposed barn & driveway redesign

Combining these requirements gave me the plan for a 40×66′ barn.  It’s comprised of a 30×40′ workshop with a 7:12 roof pitch and a small attic above the 14′ ceilings.  On each side of the center workshop sits an 18×40′ lean-to.  The left lean-to will house three 10×12′ horse stalls, a tack room, and a hallway.  The right lean-to is a machine shed for our tractors & stuff.  (The design shown at the top of this post shows preliminary dimensions.)

We originally wanted to put a small restroom in the barn, but the considerable distance between the barn and the septic lagoon made that impractical.  Instead, we’ll have a wash tub fed by a freeze-proof garden hose hydrant, and we’ll retrofit a small half bath in part of our attached garage for use when we’re all muddy.

Armed with my own design requirements, the next step was to start shopping for a builder.

How do you go about designing a project?  Do you design it yourself, or hire a pro?  Please share your opinions in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *